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Games Entertainment

Chip a Playstation, Go to Jail 703

perogiex writes "A man in Ottawa was convicted of selling and installing mod chips out of his computer store. Sony is overjoyed, man is less than thrilled. This is the first time such a case was tried in Canada." From the article: Garby said he didn't know he was committing a crime and would have never gotten involved in selling mod chips if he had known the law. Update: 07/24 21:53 GMT by M : Headline corrected; it's clearly mod chips for the original Playstation, not the Playstation 2.
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Chip a Playstation, Go to Jail

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  • by mrbill ( 4993 ) <mrbill@mrbill.net> on Wednesday July 24, 2002 @12:42PM (#3945227) Homepage
    If you read the article, he was also selling a line of 417 different *pirated games*.

    If he didnt know *that* was illegal, he's full of it.
  • Mod chips (Score:4, Informative)

    by unformed ( 225214 ) on Wednesday July 24, 2002 @12:46PM (#3945271)
    allow playing games that have been copied to CDR.

    It's legitimate use is that it allows playign games from Japan.

    FYI, the PS and PS2 also have region encoding similar to DVDs. Japanese games can't be played on American consoles, and (I believe) vice-versa. The mod chip prevents the system from recognizing that its not a legitimate disc (by replying to all queries as 'yes, this is legal')

    Just as DeCSS is primarily used for watching other-regon dvds, but has a side effect of getting unencrypted content, the mod chip allows playing other-region games, and has a side effect of allowing games on CDR also.

    Chances are that's why he got arrested. In the US, he could probably (also?) be arrested under the DMCA.

    I'm not taking any sides, just stating facts...
  • Re:uh (Score:5, Informative)

    by tonywong ( 96839 ) on Wednesday July 24, 2002 @12:48PM (#3945291) Homepage
    Sheesh, did you read the article?

    He was caught modding the machines and selling pirated software out of his store. I don't think you can get busted for modding unless they can prove the intent was for pirating and not backup. Well, having and selling pirated software with your mods counts as copyright infringement.

    It's like saying he had a lockpit set and was caught using it to steal goods from cars. Guess what? It's not the possession of the lockpit set that got him busted.
  • Re:DMCA (Score:4, Informative)

    by Proaxiom ( 544639 ) on Wednesday July 24, 2002 @12:49PM (#3945302)
    No. Although the Canadian government has been investigating the possibility [ic.gc.ca] of a DMCA equivalent.
  • Re:Old... (Score:2, Informative)

    by AlgUSF ( 238240 ) on Wednesday July 24, 2002 @12:56PM (#3945398) Homepage
    Actually the artile only talked about "PlayStation", not "PlayStation2". So I guess it would be PSOne, not PS2...
  • Re:wait a second... (Score:2, Informative)

    by jivany ( 101917 ) on Wednesday July 24, 2002 @12:56PM (#3945399) Homepage
    This story is different than the one I read in either the Ottawa Sun or the Ottawa Citizen (can't remember which paper and I can't find a link either). That story stated the charges were related to the sale of the copied games, not because of the modchips.

    Last time I checked, it's still legal to void your warranty.
  • by malfunct ( 120790 ) on Wednesday July 24, 2002 @12:58PM (#3945409) Homepage
    Upon a 2nd careful reading its very clear that he was arrested on 2 counts of copyright infingement (I assume this is for the pirate games) and 4 counts of selling unauthorized computer equipment. I guess thats the end of hardware hacking in Canada which makes me sad.
  • by Phoenix ( 2762 ) on Wednesday July 24, 2002 @01:01PM (#3945437)
    INAL, but as far as I'm aware, Mod chipping is a grey area of legality. Is it not illegal to sell or own the chips, however it is illegal to sell the PS/2 with one pre-installed, as that comes under the heading of selling Sony's product with unauthorized modifications.

    What the customer dies with the unit *after* he pays for it is totally up to the customer...as long as the customer accepts the fact that it will not be covered under warranty.

    It is a grey area because the ModChips can be used for legitimate uses as well as illegal ones...Much the same way that a CD-RW can be used for legit back-up and archival purposes as well as for pirating software.

    This guy hasn't a leg to stand on as he sold Sony Product with unauthorized modifications as well as selling pirated software.


    BTW: Before I get flamed/trolled, a legit use of a mod chip would be to have a working copy of a game that can get scratched and/or broken while the original is sitting in a nice shelf somewhere safe.
  • by sylvester ( 98418 ) on Wednesday July 24, 2002 @01:26PM (#3945639) Homepage
    It sounds rather DMCA-like. I wonder if Parliament passed something DMCA-like with almost no fanfare.

    No. Heritage Canada and Industry Canada have been collaborating in a very significant consultation process accross Canada. I attended their Ottawa consultation meeting, which had surprisingly strong "citizen" representation. The big american content producers were given their say, but not given a lot of credibility. Michael Geist [uottawa.ca], a U of Ottawa lawyer , was particularly good with not letting things by.

    Canada DMCA opponents mailing list. [flora.org]
    Digital-Copyright.ca [digital-copyright.ca]
    Thorough background [sooke.bc.ca] brought to you by Matthew Skala, the chap that broke (IIRC) the Cyber-Patrol encryption and, again IIRC, was pursued by Mattel for DMCA violations, despite being a Canadian.

  • The CBC doesn't say. (Score:5, Informative)

    by hearingaid ( 216439 ) <redvision@geocities.com> on Wednesday July 24, 2002 @01:26PM (#3945649) Homepage
    However, the phrasing makes me think it was probably s. 342.1 of the Criminal Code. I reproduce the section in full below.

    342.1(1) Unauthorized use of computer
    342.1 (1) Every one who, fraudulently and without colour of right,
    (a) obtains, directly or indirectly, any computer service,
    (b) by means of an electro-magnetic, acoustic, mechanical or other device, intercepts or causes to be intercepted, directly or indirectly, any function of a computer system, or
    (c) uses or causes to be used, directly or indirectly, a computer system with intent to commit an offence under paragraph (a) or (b) or an offence under section 430 in relation to data or a computer system is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years, or is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.
    342.1(2) Definitions
    (2) In this section,
    computer program means data representing instructions or statements that, when executed in a computer system, causes the computer system to perform a function;
    computer service includes data processing and the storage or retrieval of data;
    computer system means a device that, or a group of interconnected or related devices one or more of which,
    (a) contains computer programs or other data, and
    (b) pursuant to computer programs,
    (i) performs logic and control, and
    (ii) may perform any other function;
    data means representations of information or of concepts that are being prepared or have been prepared in a form suitable for use in a computer system;
    electro-magnetic, acoustic, mechanical or other device means any device or apparatus that is used or is capable of being used to intercept any function of a computer system, but does not include a hearing aid used to correct subnormal hearing of the user to not better than normalhearing;
    function includes logic, control, arithmetic, deletion, storage and retrieval and communication or telecommunication to, from or within a computer system;
    intercept includes listen to or record a function of a computer system, or acquire the substance, meaning or purport thereof.
    R.S., 1985, c. 27 (1st Supp.), s. 45.

    He was also convicted of straightforward, old-style piracy; he was apparently selling pirated games on CDRs.

  • by javatips ( 66293 ) on Wednesday July 24, 2002 @01:37PM (#3945736) Homepage
    BTW the guy never got in jail. He was fined and on probation for a year.
  • Re:Mod chips (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 24, 2002 @01:56PM (#3945901)
    Ottawa is in Canada.
  • by Cyberdyne ( 104305 ) on Wednesday July 24, 2002 @02:52PM (#3946332) Journal
    How does putting an interop chip in your PS1, writing a program on your PC, compiling it with GCC, burning it to a CD, and putting it in the PS1's drive violate Sony's copyright?

    Your program is linking against Sony's code (the PS1's firmware). According to the FSF, this requires Sony's permission - at least, they say linking against other code requires that code's author's permission. (That's how the GPL bans non-GPL code calling GPLed libraries, unlike the LGPL...)

  • Re:Pirated Games (Score:2, Informative)

    by dadragon ( 177695 ) on Wednesday July 24, 2002 @03:54PM (#3946771) Homepage
    To summarise:

    Pirated games + mod chips = 2 counts of copyright infringment.
    Pirated games = 1 count of copyright infringment
    mod chips = 0 counts of copyright infringment as there is no demonstratable intent.

If graphics hackers are so smart, why can't they get the bugs out of fresh paint?